Don't assume that mobile applications are simpler to test just because they are "smaller" than desktop applications or have fewer features. Testing mobile applications poses many unique challenges to testers, especially in terms of configuration management.
The earlier you can decide on and get your hands on the target handsets, the better. Sometimes, this is as easy as going to the store and grabbing a new phone with a new service plan; other times, it's more complicated.
Did you Know?
For preproduction handsets, it can take months to get the hardware in-hand from the manufacturer or operator through developer program loaner services. Cooperating with carrier handset loaner programs and buying handsets from retail locations is frustrating but sometimes necessary. Don't wait until the last minute to gather the test hardware you need.
One of the biggest challenges a mobile application tester faces is the explosion of new Android devices on the market. This problem—called handset fragmentation— makes the task of keeping track of the devices available—running the different versions of the Android SDK and having different screen sizes, features, and hardware increasingly complex (see Figure 22.1).
Some companies run developer programs with phone labs. Here, developers can rent time on specific handsets—by mail, remotely (via the Internet), or by traveling to the lab. This gives developers access to a wide variety of handsets on many different networks, without requiring them to own each and every one. Some labs are even staffed with experts to help iron out handset-specific problems.
There is no guarantee that a preproduction handset will behave exactly the same as the production model that eventually ships to consumers. Features are often cut at the last minute to make the production deadline.
Managing a Handset Database
It is a good idea to use a database to keep track of handset information for development, testing, and marketing purposes. Such a database might contain information such as the following:
► Handset information (models, features, SDK versions, hardware specifics such as whether a handset has a camera or built-in keyboard)
► Which handsets you have on hand (and where they are, if they are owned or loaned, and so on)
► Which handsets you want to target for a given application
► The handsets on which your applications are selling best
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